The idea of a “happy hour” is well entrenched in the lives of adults in the U.S., with offers of discounted alcoholic beverages for anyone of legal drinking age during a short time period. Because of the evolution of laws regarding alcohol in the U.S., the legal ramifications of advertising drink specials comes into play in many states. For instance, recently Virginia’s happy hour laws have changed to reflect a more lenient approach to the methods of announcing deals on liquor in the Commonwealth. Yet, with concerns over encouraging people to stop in, have a few “cheap” drinks and then drive home, Virginia’s happy hour laws still reflect the caution needed to deter drunk driving.
Bars and restaurants in Virginia are now permitted to announce general happy hour specials through websites and social media, as well as on signage outside of the establishment and through other media channels. Prior to this, Virginia’s happy hour laws did not allow any public announcement through the Internet or broadcast media, and would only permit one sign outside of the restaurant or bar. Still, there are strict guidelines as to what can be said or displayed regarding the happy hour specials in Virginia, and since the Commonwealth does not allow “2-for-1” drink specials at all, and all happy hours must end by 9pm, there are still plenty of restrictions regarding happy hours.
When a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, he or she is certainly at risk for a DUI/DWI conviction, ignition interlock installation, court fines, and even a tragic ending to a “happy hour.” For these reasons and more, Virginia’s happy hour laws still focus on limiting the time allowed for drink specials and the ability to offer more drinks than a person should safely consume before getting behind the wheel of a car.